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2011 Singapore Grand Prix (Rd 14, Free Practice 3, Sept 24th, TV Notes)

September 25, 2011

Marina Bay circuit. © Creative Commons / Readro

Mark Webber was quickest in the final practice session prior to the Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay.

The Red Bull pilot registered a best of 1:46.081 near the end of his fifteen laps – a time that proved to be narrowly faster than Jenson Button in the silver and red McLaren.

Button completed two extra laps than Webber during his sixty-minute jaunt. It was a necessity – problems during Friday running (for both the circuit and Button) limited track time for the McLaren pilot, aiding the Red Bull advantage early on.

Sebastian Vettel unsurprisingly made it both Red Bull’s in the top three. The reigning champion made the best of his RB7 during a four-lap stint near the tail end of practice, ending the evening a quarter-of-a-second down on Webber.
The leading Ferrari of Fernando Alonso was less than a tenth shy of Vettel, although the team spent a portion of the session completing urgent set-up changes for the Spaniard. He would complete only fourteen circulations of the Marina Bay circuit.
Lewis Hamilton spent third practice making up lost ground. He, too, lost time on Friday as his McLaren MP4-26 underwent vital work, although Hamilton’s quickest lap (1:46.936) left the former champion nearly a second off the leading pace.

Nico Rosberg led the best of the rest in his turquoise Mercedes. The German pilot pipped his veteran teammate, Michael Schumacher, to 6th by a mere 0.006 of-a-second.
Schumacher lost a chunk of time due to a KERS problem, but not before the seven-time champion was badly balked by Pastor Maldonado (Williams) during a fast run.

This was not long before both Williams drivers (including Rubens Barrichello) ventured out on the super-soft Pirelli tyres – the first of the teams to do so. Although quick for a time, the Didcot-based team slid depressingly down the order as the session aged.
Come the chequered flag, Maldonado collected 14th place – 3.7 seconds off of Webber – pipping his vastly more experienced teammate by four-tenths and a single position.
Renault were next up as their nightmare weekend lurches on. With issues concerning an ill-fitting aerodynamic balance, their cars slid to 16th and 17th respectively, headed by Vitaly Petrov.
Indeed, Renault had spent a deal of time working prior to the session to refit previous layers bodywork. Cooling problems had halted Petrov’s progress on Friday – persistent issues led to the upgrade being rescinded until Japan.

Marina Bay saw some progress during the break between Friday and Saturday. The kerbs that had been so troublesome during opening practice, had either been moved further toward the wall or removed altogether.
As expected, Saturday’s opening session ran with no problems.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1m46.081s           15
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m46.108s  + 0.027  17
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1m46.345s  + 0.264  14
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1m46.396s  + 0.315  14
 5.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1m46.936s  + 0.855  20
 6.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1m47.831s  + 1.750  14
 7.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1m47.837s  + 1.756  12
 8.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1m48.711s  + 2.630  12
 9.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1m49.057s  + 2.976  15
10.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1m49.304s  + 3.223  16
11.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1m49.583s  + 3.502  17
12.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m49.679s  + 3.598  18
13.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1m49.816s  + 3.735  18
14.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1m49.851s  + 3.770  17
15.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1m50.189s  + 4.108  15
16.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1m50.229s  + 4.148  15
17.  Bruno Senna           Renault                1m50.523s  + 4.442  14
18.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m50.547s  + 4.466  17
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1m52.510s  + 6.429  17
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1m52.697s  + 6.616  19
21.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth           1m53.728s  + 7.647  17
22.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1m53.823s  + 7.742  18
23.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1m53.829s  + 7.748  16
24.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           1m55.203s  + 9.122  17
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